Whereas many of the countries we are visiting date back to civics classes, I actually hired a couple of contract programmers from Estonia back in my Amkor days. I don’t remember much of what they told me, but I’m interested in the country and a bit of its history. Our excursion began at 8:15am, and returned around 12:30pm.
Estonia is one of the three “Baltic States”, which also include Latvia and Lithuania. It’s rather small, with Estonia having a population of 1.38 million, and its capital, Tallinn, having almost a third of that population with 400,000. In 1980, the Olympic sailing events were held in Tallinn, which was also the year of the Russian boycott. The country sits on the 59th parallel, North, which puts it along the same parallel as British Columbia, Alaska, Scotland.
Our focus was “Old Town”, which is a World Heritage site. Like many countries in the area, as we learned, the Estonians were ruled by other nations through much of their history; including Denmark from 1219, was sold to Germany from 1346, Sweden from 1561, then Russia from 1710 to 1918, when the Estonian Declaration of Independence – largely based on the United States document – was adopted. They won their war of independence from Russia, and adopted a Constitution in 1920. They were “unlawfully” incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940. They saw action in WWII between the Russians and the Germans, and remained part of the Soviet Union until 1989, when the Soviet Union was dissolved. They joined the EU in 2003, and NATO in 2004, and have built their comeback based on shipping (access to the ocean), and a bit on technology – having a significant role, reportedly, in SKYPE.
We bussed a relatively short distance into town – a cursory bus tour of the new city. Once in the Old City, we turned to a pleasant walking tour. The buildings are colored very similarly to St. Petersburg and Moscow – relatively bright – to combat the long hours of darkness that goes along with living on the 59th parallel. The city was walled, as many key cities were. The streets were largely cobblestone, with some pavers. Education is/was deemed important to the people of Estonia. They are particularly proud of their “elite schools”, which focus on languages and science.
Baltic Amber is big, and, of course, Alison and Marion had to shop. Barry and I found an outdoor restaurant and had some coffee, while waiting, and fortunately, we all met at the McDonalds in time to hike back to the bus and back to the ship. We were on-board again by approximately 12:30.